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How History Plays into Bibliology and Christology.

Dr. Daniel Wallace is a Textual Criticism scholar, and has written on the issue of the reliability of the Bible, evidence in ancient manuscripts, and what all that means for us today.  I’ve been following his works for some time now, and I’m so grateful for him in helping me formulate an informed view of inerrancy, textual criticism, and theology, and how it all pertains to my life.

I like this quote because it is a call for “hands-off” evangelicals to be better informed, and realize that our book has a wealth of evidence, which reinforces the pillars of our faith.

If Christ is at the core of our beliefs, then the incarnation has to loom large in our thinking about the faith. When God became man and invaded space-time history, this served notice that we dare not treat the Bible with kid gloves. The incarnation not only invites us to examine the evidence, it requires us to do so. The fact that our religion is the only major religion in the world that is subject to historical verification is no accident: it’s part of God’s design. Jesus performed miracles and healings in specific towns, at specific times, on specific people. The Gospels don’t often speak in generalities. And Paul mentioned that 500 believers saw the risen Christ at one time, then added that most of these folks were still alive. These kinds of statements are the stuff of history; they beg the reader to investigate. Too often modern evangelicals take a hands-off attitude toward the Bible because of a prior commitment to inerrancy. But it is precisely because I ground my bibliology in Christology rather than the other way around that I cannot do that. I believe it is disrespectful to my Lord to not ask the Bible the tough questions that every thinking non-Christian is already asking it.

Dr. Daniel Wallace

You can find more information on Textual Criticism, issues about the Bible, or if you want to read 2nd or 3rd century Greek manuscripts for yourself online, you can visit his website here, at the Center for New Testament Manuscripts.

Things Grand & Beautiful

[I must apologize in advance for all the baby content.  A father simply cannot hold back when talking about things that are beautiful and grand.]

More and more I’m beginning to realize I’m the luckiest guy on this blessed earth.  I am, and this summer has provided me some respite to dwell on what all is beautiful and grand in my life.

Most of all, I must say it is who I am in Christ.  That cuts to the core of what I was made to do and who I will be for eternity.  I was made to enjoy God, and all the things he’s made for us.  This simple life I have now is just a snapshot of what’s to come.

One of the more beautiful things I have witnessed this summer is my family’s love for each other.  It has been a joy to see my grandparents on my side of the family as well as those on my wife’s side, embrace with gladness their grandparent-hood with my son.

Anyways, I wanted to share with you my life, in hopes you’ll find things for yourself that are “grand and beautiful” in yours.  I had to work to find them.  I don’t always have this perspective, but that’s what I’m out to change.

2012’s Top Photos

It was a beautiful year last year, and this is an attempt to capture in a short collection of pics, what has happened, what was most significant, what I loved about 2012.

It was difficult, but I combed through the hundreds of photos that we’ve accumulated since we’ve been here in Turkey, and “voille!”, I give you “2012’s Top Photos!!”  To be honest, I could have put up way way more photos of my son, but I restrained myself.

Showering With History; a brief look at Olive Oil Soap

Last year my wife and I visited one of the most charming cities in Turkey.  Antakya, or in ancient biblical times, Antioch.  It was on the streets of that city, which so beautifully has contained the history of the city in its culture and architecture, that we came across a shop.

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  It was far away from the hustle bustle of the main streets, and away from the touristy sights.  It was the handmade shawls that first caught my wife’s eye.  Then as we entered, we were greeted by the shop-owner, “Hosh Geldiniz!” I remember also being greeted by the aroma of those earthy soaps with a delight that has yet to dissipate, to this day.  It was such an earthy, crisp and clean, and wholesome smell, that I began to ask what they were.  It was something traditional to Antakya he said.  They were olive oil soaps mixed with “defne” or laurel oil.  ImageThey were nothing fancy that hit those high notes of sweet, or sunk deep to satisfy the exotic.  It was simply something pure, traditional, and right.  He explained locals love them, because the defne helps with the summer heat and sweating.  So we bought some.

It proved to be much more than just helpful, as it truly brightened my showering experience.  I felt like I was partaking in tradition somehow, even though it was just a shower.  I never liked bar soaps mostly for how they left me feeling afterward.  Dry mostly.  This was different, and the aromas in the shower…again not anything surprising, but simply pleasing.  It’s those small things in life that sometimes brings that pip back, or puts that spring back into your step.

As we continued to peruse museums there, and other museums in later months, the theme of laurel surfaced again and again.

Laurel branches were important in Roman mythology.  Daphne caught the eye of Apollo when she was a water nymph, and loved to give him a good chase.  But when she almost got caught by Apollo, she cried out to Mother earth for her to cover her, and hide her, so she turned her into a Laurel tree.  Apollo can be seen in stone reliefs wearing a laurel wreath on his head.

The history of the actual soap being made from olive oil goes way back farther than the Romans, to the Babylonian empire in 2800 BC.  People have been scrubbing down with this stuff for a long time I guess.  As far as Antakya goes, it is very famous for its olive and laurel soap, as laurel trees grow around that area.  Antakya was a big city back in its hay day in the Roman Empire.  In fact, it was in the running to pass Rome in its importance and become the next Roman capital, when a tragic earthquake hit.  Whether the large Roman city was manufacturing this sort of soap in that day, I’m not sure.  A more historically traceable type of soap, perhaps almost identical to Antakyan soap, is Allepo Soap, made in the city or surrounding area of Allepo, Syria.  The traditional ingredients are the same as those in Antakya; olive oil, lye, and laurel berry oil.  We know that soap manufacturing can be traced westward from this city.  Stinky crusaders credited Allepo for giving them soap making know-how, and gradually along the Mediterranean, soap technologies spread. 

Nowadays, wherever you go, you may be able to find a wide variety of artisan soaps being sold in markets or fairs.  From cappuccino caramel scented soaps, to plain mint, one would think they are buying some sort of NASA food, made for astronauts.  As for me, I’m sticking with tried and true simplicity, with a dash of history.

 

In case your curious, here are some benefits to the soap;

 

  1. Broad effective uses for daily use, shampooing, face masks, baby-safe and shaving cream.  In my experience, it tends to be the soap of choice for public hamams (Turkish baths, styled after the idea of a Roman bath-house)
  2. Is effective for wound healing, and against bug bites.
  3. Helps relieve the symptoms of skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and acne.
  4. Compounds in laurel oil have been found to be inhibitors of skin cancer and other tumor growths.
  5. And finally…it floats, unlike other soaps.  The scientific ramifications of this anomaly have yet to be researched though.

Jack London’s Explanation For the Need of Christ Incarnate

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“God is out there” said a wise man once.  Out where?  And why out there?  Can’t he be here?  To a lot of people that’s how they think of God.  If you were to ask them directly, they might say, “He is out there somewhere.  I can’t tell you where, I just know he exists and he’s out there.”  Perhaps in explanation of the evil in the world one might say, “He has abandoned us.  He’s out there, but he’s not here anymore.  If he was here, there wouldn’t be this much evil.”

 

I came across someone who I think struggled with the same questions.  Where is God?  In Jack London’s fascinatingly experienced childhood, he most likely starting asking his first God questions, if not then later, when he wrote “White Fang”, about which is the subject of this writing.  His childhood brought him into oyster piracy, a purchase of his first sailboat, work as a sailor, homelessness, and gang membership in California, not to mention a self-taught education, which in the later years were supported and funded by a local pub.  A rare childhood to say the least, and one can only imagine the kinds of experiences and conversations with people he met.

 

Jack London never grew to know Christ as his savior that we know of.  From the way he wrote, he seemed to think poorly of those who believed in God, maybe even futile.  One thing surprised me though about this passage of literature.  It shows an unbelieving mans heart-cry for Christ.  Before I say anymore, I’ll give the passage.  The context is, according to these dogs, humans are as gods to them.  Now he’ll compare and contrast the difference between humans’ gods, and the dog’s gods.

 

To man has been given the grief, often, of seeing his gods overthrown and his altars crumbling; but to the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to crouch at man’s feet, this grief has never come. Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the overguessed, vapours and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible out-croppings of self into the realm of spirit – unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god. There is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hind-legs, club in hand, immensely potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.

– Part III, Ch. 2, “The Bondage”, White Fang.

 

Without knowing it, Jack London has painted for us, the purpose Christ came.  Before Christ came, God was this personally unknown, unmet, untouchable deity, that existed, and revealed His will by way of prophets.  But to show just how much He really loved us, God came down, clothed himself in the flesh of man, humbling himself from divine stature, to meet with us.  Flesh to flesh.  Face to face.  Communicate with us in person.  What Jack London might have been really asking was, “Give me a god I can touch, who I can talk with, who I can reason with.  I don’t want ‘vapors and mists’, I want a real-life relatable being.”

 

I hope someone had the chance to share with him, that Christ, God, came to earth once upon a time, to come out of the vapor and mist so to speak, to say, “I am God, in the flesh.  I’ve come to tell you, I love you, and that through me, you can have life to the fullest, even eternal life.” (not to say originally, he was merely vapor and mist)

 

Love is often understood by explanation, but Love is felt by demonstration.  So Christ came to demonstrate His love for us, by being one of us, so he could show how much He loved us by dying on the cross.

Happiness among Adjustments

I never would have thought such effort would be necessary for home to feel like “home”. Our new home here in Turkey is slowly starting to feel more and more like home. Many tears of frustration have fallen here, and many arguments wrestled through from the lack of feeling “not at home” but strangers in a strange land. Considering my recent past before our arrival to Turkey, every time I’ve moved in the US to a new location, be it a city or simply a new flat, it wouldn’t take much time ‘til I felt “at home”.
Emily and I have thought long and hard about what exactly made us feel at home, when we did feel at home. Was it being in a neighborhood that we knew? Was it being able to speak with our neighborhoods and knowing the social mannerisms required to meeting them? Was it simply “knowing” our society, so that wherever we went we at least knew where to start our integration into a new city or neighborhood?
We haven’t arrived at a sufficient conclusion, though “familiarity” may remain as our top way for feeling at home. We are growing in our familiarity of our surroundings and I can say, we are beginning to feel at home here in Mersin, Turkey. So many things are different here; from the beautifully tiled flooring, to the way you defensively cross the savage neighborhood streets, to the way you change the way you think in terms of distance (miles to kilometres), weight (pounds to kilograms) and size (inches to metres).
The name of the game seems to be flexibility in the face of extreme adjustments. And the beautiful thing about adjustments are, you get used to them. Life is a complex series of adjustments. One day you got pimples and peer pressure, the next you have college finals, and then a woman ends up in your bed with a ring on her finger who happily says she got it from you. Life is all about adjustments, but for Emily and Inot only are we preparing to start a family, we are preparing to start a family while language learning and culture learning in a new country. A new child will be quite an adjustment, but I honestly can’t wait.
So here I am, feeling quite at home in a still a strange new land, typing away on a familiar keyboard with a very familiar special someone nearby keeping me company…and I can say I’m quite happy!